Create a Knit Pattern From a Picture and Graph Paper

Updated on May 20, 2019
Ladymermaid profile image

I am a creative person. My hands have a natural desire to bring my ideas to life. I write paint decoupage knit and crochet. I am a crafter.

3 small hearts created within a knit stockinette pattern
3 small hearts created within a knit stockinette pattern

Homemade Crafts Are Delightfully Unique Items

My latest passion in yarn crafts is knitting patterns which feature a picture design. I especially enjoy laying the images out within a square cotton washcloth. These are delightfully fun and simple to handcraft and are an enchanting twist to the traditional homemade ones. They can be used as a washing cloth for dishes or the bath. As they are such a unique item and so quick to create, they are an ideal project to create for gift giving or selling at craft fairs.

Although there are many free patterns available online, you can also get personal and design your own. It's easy. All you need for this knit project is an idea, a sheet of graph paper, needles, and yarn. Generally a solid color yarn will display a clearer image than a multi-color wool will. Also, the simpler the image, the better it will show on your finished work, so keep these little tips in mind as you select your design.

Although I started out with the idea of creating a set of washcloths for each of my bathrooms, many of the ones I have made have instead transformed themselves into gifts for family and friends. That is the beauty of crafting. It is a hobby that is enjoyable yet can be highly practical as well. You can make items for your own needs, tuck some away for gift giving, or if you're looking to make a few extra dollars you can post them for sale at a local flea market.

Select a Design to Create

The simpler a design, the better it will show on your finished work. An image such as a heart, star, sun, butterfly, coffee or tea cup, truck, or train can display very well. You can also spell out a word or name on your cloth. Once you have an idea of the image you want to create, then it is time to pull out a sheet of graph paper and map out your design. Each square of the graph paper will be one stitch. Keep in mind that a larger picture will generally display better than a smaller one.

I begin by selecting the image that I want to feature on my dishcloth. In this instance I have decided on a heart. I draw out the heart on the graph paper but realize that the image is quite small. Rather than rework it to a larger size, I decide to create my pattern using a series of small hearts rather than one large one.

The work is done in a simple stockinette pattern, which is basically alternating one row knit and one row purl stitch. So, you knit one row, then purl the next row and repeat this pattern throughout. When it comes time to include the heart, I use purl stitch rather than knit, and vice versa for the purl row, where I use knit stitches to create the heart. The picture design is created when the stitches are reversed so that the reverse side of the stockinette pattern shows through as a distinct image within the basic work. In essence, what we see within the heart is simply the back side of the stockinette stitch. When the cloth is reversed, we see the right side of the stockinette stitch within the heart pattern.

knitted 5 heart washcloth pattern
knitted 5 heart washcloth pattern

Mapping Out Your Pattern's Stitches

Your pattern will consist of an odd number of stitches. I generally use a measurement of 37, 39, or 41 stitches for my washcloth pattern.

When writing the pattern out, I follow what is set out on graph paper. My hearts consists of X's within the squares of the graph paper. Each X is one knitted stitch which when placed within the stockinette pattern will create my design.

On the bottom of the graph paper I write out the number of stitches I will cast on and that will be used to complete my washcloth (37). Up the left side of the page I write the number of rows the basic heart pattern will require. The first row (right side of work) will be knitted from left to right while the second row (reversed side) will be knit from right to left and so on alternating directions throughout the pattern. A single heart is created using the following stitches.

Row 1: K6, P1, K6

Row 2: P5, K3, P5

Row 3: K4, P5, K4

Row 4: P3, K7, P3

Row 5: K2, P9, K2

Row 6: P1, K11, P1

Row 7: K1, P11, K1

Row 8: P1, K11, P1

Row 9: K1, P5, K1, P5, K1

Row 10: P2, K3, P3, K3, P2

This is how I graphed out a 3 heart pattern.
This is how I graphed out a 3 heart pattern.

Three Small Hearts in a Row

For an 8 heart pattern with a border I write the pattern rows out in this way. Keep in mind that as I write the pattern I am alternating the work from left to right (front side) and right to left (reversed side) just as I would if I were knitting it. Also see image above.

Using Crochet Cotton and size 4mm needles Cast on 43 stitches

Rows 1 to 4: K1 P1 across row

Row 5: K1, P1, K1, P1, Knit to last 4 stitches P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 6: K1, P1, K1, Purl to last 3 stitches K1, P1, K1

Row 7: K1, P1, K1, P1, K5, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K5, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 8: K1, P1, K1, P5, K3, P9, K3, P9, K3, P5, K1, P1, K1

Row 9: K1, P1, K1, P1, K3, P5, K7, P5, K7, P5, K3, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 10: K1, P1, K1, P3, K7, P5, K7, P5, K7, P3. K1, P1, K1

Row 11: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P9, K3, P9, K3, P9, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 12: K1, P1, K1, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 13: K1, P1, K1, P12, K1, P11, K1, P12, K1, P1, K1

Row 14: K1, P1, K1, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 15: K1, P1, K1, P6, K1, P5, K1, P5, K1, P5, K1, P5, K1, P6, K1, P1, K1

Row 16: K1, P1, K1, P2, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P2, K1, P1, K1

Row 17: K1, P1, K1, P1, Knit to last 4 stitches P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 18: K1, P1, K1, Purl to last 3 stitches K1, P1, K1

Rows 19 to 24: *Repeat rows 17 and 18* 3 times more

Row 25: K1, P1, K1, P1, K5, P1, K23, P1, K5, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 26: K1, P1, K1, P5, K3, P21, K3, P5, K1, P1, K1

Row 27: K1, P1, K1, P1, K3, P5, K19, P5, K3, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 28: K1, P1, K1, P3, K7, P17, K7, P3, K1, P1, K1

Row 29: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P9, K15, P9, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 30: K1, P1, K1, P1, K11, P13, K11, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 31: K1, P1, K1, P12, K13, P12, K1, P1, K1,

Row 32: K1, P1, K1, P1, K11, P13, K11, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 33: K1, P1, K1, P6, K1, P5, K13, P5, K1, P6, K1, P1, K1

Row 34: K1, P1, K1, P2, K3, P3, K3, P15, K3, P3, K3, P2, K1, P1, K1

Row 35: K1, P1, K1, P1, Knit to last 4 stitches P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 36: K1, P1, K1, Purl to last 3 stitches K1, P1, K1

Row 37 to 42: *Repeat rows 35 and 36* 3 times more

Row 43: K1, P1, K1, P1, K5, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K5, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 44: K1, P1, K1, P5, K3, P9, K3, P9, K3, P5, K1, P1, K1

Row 45: K1, P1, K1, P1, K3, P5, K7, P5, K7, P5, K3, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 46: K1, P1, K1, P3, K7, P5, K7, P5, K7, P3. K1, P1, K1

Row 47: K1, P1, K1, P1, K1, P9, K3, P9, K3, P9, K1, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 48: K1, P1, K1, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 49: K1, P1, K1, P12, K1, P11, K1, P12, K1, P1, K1

Row 50: K1, P1, K1, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K11, P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 51: K1, P1, K1, P6, K1, P5, K1, P5, K1, P5, K1, P5, K1, P6, K1, P1, K1

Row 52: K1, P1, K1, P2, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P3, K3, P2, K1, P1, K1

Row 53: K1, P1, K1, P1, Knit to last 4 stitches P1, K1, P1, K1

Row 54: K1, P1, K1, Purl to last 3 stitches K1, P1, K1

Row 55 to 58: K1 P1 across row

8 Heart Pattern: Right side and reversed work
8 Heart Pattern: Right side and reversed work

You Are Only Limited by Your Imagination

Once you become more experienced graphing out and creating your own knitting patterns, you can begin to create more complex images. You can choose to add a knit border into your basic pattern as you create it, or if you are a versatile yarn crafter, you can elect to crochet a border onto your finished piece. Don't feel limited to only put a picture onto small knitted works. You can set your designs into any pattern that you elect to work it into.

Below is my rendition of the alphabet in knit pattern form based on the same stockinette stitch used for the heart pattern. One space or X = one stitch. You can adjust the pattern in size and knit one letter or a group to create a word such as MOM, DAD, or LOVE.

Graphed Alphabet A to O
Graphed Alphabet A to O
Graphed Alphabet P to Z
Graphed Alphabet P to Z

I try to ensure my patterns are error-free, but if you do spot a mistake please let me know in the comment section at the foot of this article.

There Are Many Types of Yarn Craft

Which Is Your Favorite to Create?

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© 2019 Lorelei Cohen

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    • Ladymermaid profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 weeks ago from Canada

      Knitting in pictures can be addictively fun Linda. I also did a number of cat design washcloths for my oldest daughter who is a crazy cat mama.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoy knitting, but I've never tried creating my own pattern. I like the idea very much. Thank you for sharing the instructions, Lorelei. This is a useful article.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 weeks ago from Canada

      Once you get the hang of it Chitrangada it is as easy as creating any other pattern. I graph my pattern, then write it out, then knit the item so I can search for errors in my pattern. Sometimes it takes a couple tries to get it right lol. All part of the fun and frustration of crafting.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Nicely explained knitting pattern. I like knitting and would love to try it the way, you have suggested, next time.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Ladymermaid profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      4 weeks ago from Canada

      Flourish I have been having so much fun with the image patterns and learning the many different ways they can be created. A few attempts of course that didn't work but most come out very attractive. The store bought washcloths cannot compare to the homemade cotton ones. They are so soft yet durable. They are now one of my favorite projects.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 weeks ago from USA

      I really wish I could knit when I see things like this. I learned to crochet as a child but nothing too complicated. So jealous!

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